A new £1.9bn National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has opened in London with a warning to businesses to sharpen their approach to the growing threat of cyber attack.
The NCSC was launched in October 2016, but its headquarters formally opened in London this week.
New Civil Engineer reported in December that operators of critical infrastructure in the UK were waking up to the prospect of cyber attacks.
In 2015, the Ukrainian power network was subject to a major cyber-attack. Cyber criminals hacked into the systems, turned off the power and wiped the data from computer networks, ensuring that rebooting the system would have no effect. The authorities managed to restore power after a few hours using manual override switches.
Speaking at this week’s launch, chancellor Philip Hammond said that cyber attacks were increasing in frequency, severity and sophistication, adding that in the centre had responded to 188 attacks in its first three months.
“The development of artificial intelligence heralds a technological revolution that will fundamentally change our lives,” he said. “But it will also disrupt existing patterns of work, life, and society. The fact is that the greater connectivity that will enable the development of the digital economy. Is also a source of vulnerability.
“And those who want to exploit that vulnerability have not been idle.”
Hammond added that 65% of large businesses had reported a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months, yet nine out of ten businesses had no incident management plan dealing with such incidents.
“Business has to sharpen its approach as the scale of the threat from cyber increases and intensifies,” he said.
The centre has released a report detailing past, present and expected future threats. It noted increasing automation, robotics, 3D printing and the internet of things as being potential causes of vulnerability.
On a list of “10 things to get excited about in the future” – items which could improve the cyber landscape in the next 10 years – it listed smart cities, as number one and next generation productivity as number two.
Within smart cities, it said that the way data is used could revolutionise how future cities are built, with data-driven decisions, asset tracking, optimisation of traffic and utilities made possible from smart devices and infrastructure.
The NCSC also said said that new technology would bring productivity improvements to new environments with augmented reality and virtual reality displays enabling massive leaps in the visualisation of big data.